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Conquering Crappy Light

Lesson 15 of 32

Crappy Lighting Condition: Low Light Outdoors


Conquering Crappy Light

Lesson 15 of 32

Crappy Lighting Condition: Low Light Outdoors


Lesson Info

Crappy Lighting Condition: Low Light Outdoors

We're putting these in chronological order we wanted to kind of give you an idea of what it was like for lyndsey and I to be shooting on the roof the other day um and it was kind of rough because after the sun went down it was pitch dark so lindsay covered kind of ways to get a stable shot yesterday in the in the church that we were at, but when you're up here you have issues of focus is, well, a stability, so we had to try to figure out how to focus on our subject in the dark and there's a couple different ways to do that uh under camera, you have what I like to lovingly refer to it as like metal head lamp it's like a little you know, like the cars with one front headlight out this little guy up here you can see it's actually such a dark, crappy light in our in our temporary studio here that when I go to focus it automatically is pumping this little head lamp right here. So I'll show you what this looks like when you're shooting in pitch dark. So every time I pushed the head button ha...

lfway down to try to grab focus, you're seeing that go on and what you have to do is you might think well, eric weren't using continuous focus or using back button using shutter in this instance I want that illuminator light to come on. First thing you have to do is open up your camera manuals that I hope you guys found yesterday. Look for auto focus illuminator and then in there in that menu, just turn it on once and then forget about it and basically, from then on, every single time you have your camera in single release mode, which means you push the button down. Once you get one photo and you have your offended your focus dot in the center, the very centre focus dot if you have those two things together and the and the menu item turned on, you'll get the headlamp every single time you go and that's. Why I was shooting single and I wish rather than continuous and single focus rather than a continuous focus mode as well, to get that and that's what you see it go on and off every time, so every time we push the button down headlands comes headlamp comes on allows me to focus is if I had a spotlight on my subject and goes away right as I take the photo and I don't know if he actually said that it won't work if you're in continuous, yeah, it will, it will not work. So if you're trying to see how the heck why isn't this working that's one of the most common like aha moments that people have is they say, well, I've tried to get put mine on it won't work it's in continuous it will not work another thing too is your focus dot has to be in the very center a lot of people get it on, they figure out this this single single focus thing and then they're going going going they bump something on the back of their camera and their focus point moves over on old cameras were there like nine or something like that, it was noticeable you knew if your focus stop moved over in the viewfinder, if you've got fifty one or sixty one points and it nudges over a little bit and you're shooting, you might not notice it so all of a sudden your auto focus illuminator stopped working just make sure you re center your center focus dot and make sure you're still on single focus rather than a servo were continuous so it's a couple okay, so it actually physically has to be in the center dot has to be in the south it's not just you know, so where you can move it to a focus point it physically has to be in the center center dot and if you think about it it's because it's um it's a small beam so literally only gonna cover like what if your subject is in the center of your frame is really only gonna have enough light and power and focus to illuminate what's in the center of the frame and then that's what it's gonna focus off limits your composition no what do you do is your recomposed so she likes to move the focus dot a lot and that you should move the focus not a lot when you're shooting wide open with crimes because the shallow depth of field but this macy limits you to a center locking in with your back button and then re composing so great point yeah and the other reason that for me that it's not too big of an issue especially when it was weddings and receptions and what not is when I would focus and recompose I usually wasn't shooting at one point four since I'm shooting with flashes you around like two point eight to the focus recompose wasn't a big deal and so it wasn't as bad plus your center focus point is fastest um so when you're shooting in low light from at least for me in my experience when I'm on my center focus point a lot of times that's going to be the best option in low light because it will it picks up the contrast better it really just focuses faster so I can focus and recompose faster than I try to get that one corner focus point to be on a correct space and grab it it's actually faster focus and recompose at that point your center one does all the heavy lifting so if you get to use that especially for this and my camera now it's a little better for the edge ones but even I mean in the five deed the senator was my only option really for low light well actually focus so and then, um see what the next one is I think we got two or three more of these little short kind of tips so should be soon, um the low light focusing with flash here's the auto focus illuminator is gonna be our next option click this one more time they're just saw that one I'm gonna let that play through and the next thing is gonna be with our flash so that's not very inconspicuous though I mean, if every single time you go to focus on something, you have a little headlamp coming on. I mean, if you're trying to do candids at a wedding or you're just trying to do more documentary style stuff that's not really gonna do you any favors either is the slide show all right? We'll try to rewind a little bit here um so basically what I like to do a lot of the time is put I flash on I'm not a big fan of iron camera flash we've discussed all the benefits of getting it off camera, but when it is on camera you have this front section right here that you're seeing illuminated in this photograph and that is awesome because rather than having this giant spotlight firing every single time you try to get focused, you have an infrared beam or cross hairs that actually come out of the front of this again. Center dots it's under the same sun of same restraints is we had with our autofocus illuminator except this is much more efficient rather than like a white light coming out for whatever reason, that crosshairs of red infrared light is much more easily picked up by your auto focus so it our folks looks for a number of things contrast edge detail so by having a cross hatching and it gives a pattern that's easily picked up contrast wise so you might be shining your light on someone with a solid color shirt. Not a lot of contrast. You shined the cross hatching on like this and all of a sudden a lot of contrasts picked up really easily. So let me show you what that looks like on our model's face here really quick and you kind of see what I mean there you go, how did I catch it? I thought I got it all right. Anyways, we'll play the video. You guys kind of get the point here that cross action is gonna make it really easy to pick up and what's really nice about it is yeah, so what's nice about it is I can also you have this on we found out yesterday some friends phoned in and they said that on the cannons you khun, turn your flash off as in not completely off but the firing the pulsing off so that you can only use this as an autofocus is this thing. So if you're shooting low light you want to you know, use a high a so for natural light turn off the flight emitting from your cannon flash and then you can still get the benefit of that beam coming out and helping you focus on icons I prefer to it's not ableto turn off the flash pulse so you could have put it in the manual mode turned the power all the way down to maybe one over one twenty eighth and lindsay recommend we do some cinna foil or maybe some loose gaff tape on it and at a super low power setting with a little bit of light blocking you can run around and use the same thing auto focus assist cross hatching without having that flash impact your photo so it comes in super super handy when you're trying to get focused that way and like I said in the dark it's less conspicuous than the giant flashlight coming out of the front door camera and it's also much more efficient helping you focus in the dark there you go so you can see the cross hatching and again it goes off right before you fire the trigger so you don't have to think ok, push the button down halfway, let it focus and then take the flash oh god, I hope I didn't get the red cross hairs in it you can just go ahead and fire away and it knows to either turn off your headlamps or turn off your cross hatching right before the photos taken so you turn these features on you don't have to think about him anymore you're just gonna know that you're in focus finally, when you're shooting in the dark and just clarification he was saying he likes because I'm camera, then it gives you those those cross beams it doesn't like on camera flash, but this is when you bounce it as well, you could bounce it off the ceiling off the wall and we'd love you to focus in low light that's how I worked when photographing weddings and receptions is I would use that to focus and and bounce it off the wall bouncing off the ceiling so if you guys remember that what we finished with last yesterday in the church this was actually going off the whole time. We maybe didn't mention it, but the autofocus beam was working the entire time for us, so yeah, I mean, I'm able to see it, but that is a life saver. If they sold just one of these with no flashes, a tiny little infrared thing, I would jump all over it. It's kind of like my little old infrared. It is. You go back in time and picked up a new one of those it's the works just I lost the top u get ready. Okay? Another option is with our flashlight. So we're sitting here in the dark one pause on that one that's literally what our cameras saw. Um, so what we do is I had her hold a flashlight for me on the model's face, same as the autofocus illuminator, and then what you do is I get focus, and then she really quickly pulls the flashlight away, and I go ahead and take the shot. So this does a couple of things for us, though so far, we've been able to get focus of the tiny pinhole light on our camera, and we've also been able to get focused with the cross hatching coming out of our infrared. But what the flashlight does is if you think about it you saw the first photo how dark it is pitch dark what are pupils do when it's pitch dark they die awaits the black part of your eye gets massive so I don't care how pretty her eyes are when my flash finally comes on to take the picture her peoples are gonna be so big I'm gonna see zero color in your eyes so when I'm shooting low light stuff in a low studio and I may be using studio strobes or using speed lights I'll have an assistant take a flashlight and kind of shining in the face of my model to constrict the pupil so I can see the color of her eyes and then I'll take the photo so it does double duty here it helps us focus and it also makes the eyes look a lot more natural no one wants that photo of like you know you just got out of the dark you're looking at like an alien or something like that so you want to see the color of the eyes much more nose but with light colored eyes obviously sisters brown eyes but yeah if I'm going in blue a green and it's like yeah when I'm photographing the studio just want to say I totally groovy when I'm doing a beauty shot and I love that girl's eyes I'll do the same thing so that I can see all of that blue if it's a beauty shot for that reason basically, I don't use a flashlight. I just pump up my modeling like my studio strobe instead of to a low power, I pump up to full proportion so it's one hundred percent so that I can see the blue instead of having it lower even if it's perhaps slightly less comfortable on the eyes, it might tear up but that's what you're paying hundreds of dollars for your life he's so evil I'm just getting this. Oh, the flash pulse one okay, so hit pause again. All right, so this is a really cool feature. Um, this is something that I think both lindsey and I found out by accident they were not ashamed to say it. So you're handling your camera, you've got your flash on top of your camera or you have your flash in this case using the pocket wizard see the flex unit there. What this radio trigger does is it basically makes this wireless gap where your flash still thinks it's on your camera so they're able to communicate. And when you have these on there's a really do you have your depth of field preview button on the front of your camera here, back in the film days this used to be you would hold that preview buttoned down and it would stop open your camera lens to whatever aperture you had it out so you could preview how much death you would have so if I had a super shall it up the field, I'd want to know how much was going to be in focus and out of focus not so important anymore with digital cameras because we could get a live you preview, which is gonna be wide open we just take the shot look on the back of our camera more importantly, but what it does now is if you have a flash system on tl associated with this and you hold down that flash uh that depth of field preview button you're gonna get something really cool like this, we hope all right, we're describing that so right now I have a large flash bender on there it's the flash bender x l we're going to go ahead and get that into position there and there's the depth of field preview, but right in the front of the camera, we've got that and I'm gonna go ahead. And just what I'm doing now is holding down the depth of field preview button here and it's gonna give me this pulse of light now what it's gonna do is rather than firing the flashes if I push the shutter button by holding down the depth of field preview but it's going pulse very rapidly that flash, so it almost appears to be a constant lights. Essentially, we're turning our speed light into a constant light for a second or two seconds wherever along we hold down or depth of field preview button, and this is going to go ahead and shrink their pupils, allow you to get focused and also is going to let you preview what the lighting pattern is gonna look like. So some people are scared to take their speed light off camera because lyndsey mentioned studio strobes have modeling lights so you can turn them on and you have a constant light to see what you're lighting patterns gonna look like speed lights don't, but if you use this technique, it can be like, okay, it's going to look like that, move it, move it a little bit and then take the photo and you have a lot more control as well as assist focusing, we're getting a lot of questions from the audience last couple days. Oh my god, I'm gonna kill my batteries! This will probably drain your batteries more than any technique that we've showed you. But in the long run if you pick up a nice camera, spend the fifty bucks than another battery and just shoot to your heart's content because honestly it's worth it to have a backup and to be able to get that extra shot rather than having to say oh man my camera battery died I'm gonna go home for the day so definitely worth investment all right? So we're switching moods a little bit not too much it's still dark out we're pretending here you guys overseas? What time is it? We haven't anyone tuning in from where it's dark you heard the man shot him let us know what time it is realistic for anyone else out there there's someone in the dark right now. Okay, so wait here we went downstairs off of the ceiling right outside the creative life studios um to a street corner where there was overhead tungsten light and then also cars passing in the background and then also buildings that were lit even behind that. So I found this cute girl in leather is posted up on the sign that right there. So um little light balancing with ambience if you want to pause this here I'll kind of give are some motivation so we go out there this is crap crap light so if you're looking at this look at lindsey's hair the natural light here puts light on the hair and shoot straight down on us there's no light on our faces you see lindsay's nose over there the corner there's a spot of like highlight on there there's cars driving by with their headlights hit you the exposure goes up five stops and goes back down I mean this is really difficult so what I wanted to do is create a natural looking image showcasing the car's existing in the scene lighting her very well and making it look natural so first thing we did was have to add a light because we're going to try to change the direction or bring a direction of light and that's more flattering um lindsay trust me and she knows I'm a decent photographer otherwise I don't think she would have said hey, crappy light why don't you take a photo of me instead of the model um so good sport for jumping him on this one, eh? So what we did is we started with at one speed light which I'm sitting up here in an umbrella and if you want to hit play on this you describe okay what we're doing is right off the bat I'm not even playing around here at this point we've already balanced out with gels we know that we're gonna need to warm up our flash those overhead vapor tungsten lights they burn really, really warm so I'm putting on a full cut of cto here like that's the thickest piece of plastic they give you in the kip and that's gonna take my sixty five hundred calvin and drop it down to thirty, two hundred calvin's take my white light and make it orange so it matches the overhead light so I'm gonna go ahead she's going to show you here after I get this set up I'm not going to bother to fix my umbrella I could tell you it fell over and broke right before this but honestly we're doing this on purpose I haven't broken down like that so that I have more control over it. So earlier we discuss that if you have a sixty inch bounce umbrella is going to send light everywhere by having it broken down like this it's gonna condense that so we have a much more narrow beam of light so it only really covers her because we want to let the ugly overhead street lamps do most of the work and I just want this nice light focused in on lindsay's face to compliment her cheeks and her everywhere all of her facial shape. So let's hit play here and I would also say for you people there more comfortable using studio waiting for me in the studio that's and I'd bring out like a tele zoom reflector or a long throw because that the way that it works, it funnels all the light ford because it's not a widespread or his same thing between using a saw fox, what was spread out more or strip light because it forces the light forward a little bit more condenses it alright, let's, try this playing for you're gonna notice that as I put this up now too, I'm also going to ratchet it down like that because it wouldn't make sense to have a light in an environment where everything is high overhead street lamps to be coming in an eye level. So when your place in a light like this it's motivated it's going to be that light coming in from overhead it's supposed to be a street lamp um, so now that I got my lights set up, I am going to take a first photo, so let you hit play here and just kind of give me the first photo that we're looking at this sequence, I think thank you very much for navigating here for intense, okay, there he goes, I've got the camera set up on the tripod, and this is clutch here, because right now we're gonna be shooting at very low. Ah yes owes we're going to get some leads we're gonna get some light streaks and stuff in here so I wanted a stable stable platform so like lindsay discussed yesterday in the sanctuary tripods the way to go if you got it and we did get permission to shoot out here on the street so we weren't gonna get in trouble by putting down tripods on the street so this is our very first shot. All right, we've got eso tu rso four hundred one two hundredth of a second f four so I'm all manual mode so all things are controlled let's see what the next photo is s o eight hundred so now I'm gonna start ramping up my eyes so because there's not a lot of environment going on here is there I mean I took the flash and I look like an amateur because everything else fell black there's like I want environment I want mood I want like, you know, motivation here so let's up r I s o some more so we got four hundred eight hundred let's go to sixteen hundred let's double the amount of light coming in now we're seeing something let's go to thirty two hundred double it again hopefully we'll see a little bit more alive ok did I go to sixty four hundred practice what I preach? I did ok sixty four hundred okay so now we're starting to see stuff that compared to the very first photo on a completely dark background is an incredible difference right? The only problem is we hit play here some of you guys going to come in here and started picking me for grain and you know what the grain really isn't out on these cameras lindsay said she went way over top honestly, I took these files and I was surprised but I won't make this accessible so what if you come across and you have an older camera or what if you're shooting film still god bless you you purists out there um what if you're shooting film out there and you don't want to be shooting at a sixty four hundred s so you don't have to so let's go ahead I'm gonna show you how to get the exact same shot by varying r shutter speed instead so we got celeste out there are lovely assistant we're gonna start off again thanks celeste um we're gonna start off again we've got s o two hundred oh by the way find celeste on the creative live twitter she loves twitter so we want to bump up our following them so um I s o two hundred is we're going to start because everyone seems to be comfortable there were still four and we're at one one hundredth of a second I'm gonna slow it down to one fiftieth of a second keep going. One twenty fifth of a second again. I'm on a sigma eighty five millimeter, one point four lens. So this right here is below what? I should normally be hand holding out. So this is why we're on the tripod. Keep going. We're gonna go to maybe one fifteenth of a second. One thirteen. There we go. We're starting. Get light. Now, this is like I s o thirty two hundred territory. Remember last time? This is what it looked like when we were highest. So sixty four hundred. But by blocking down on a tripod and using a slow shutter speed, I'm able to stay at a super low. Comfortable. I also get the exact same ambient feel. And what what's going on here? Lindsay was nice enough to stay still for me. But in every one of these photographs she's been lit by the flash. And we mentioned yesterday at the flash the speed of the flash light coming out of the flash is fast, so think about it is instantly making an exposure to freeze her. And then only reason we have a slow shutter speed is to allow the rest of the photograph to catch up and for people that are photographing receptions or events like this. It is possible that so they have a lot of tungsten in the room if you're shooting at one fifth of a second there's a lot of tungsten hitting that subject kind of like me what's letting my hair and states letting their face even if you're using the flash, you might see a little subject blur because you let and enough light from the ambient to record the person in the ambience and then you froze him with the flash you might see some of that ghosting in the background which sometimes actually really cool if you didn't want that and you were worried about subject blur then you might back off to something thirteen or maybe so you see a little bit of background but not worry about the two interacting I would say I prefer this look much better and so I would give that a try first and then if I thought there is a little bit too much subject blur then I went to a fifth I do with thirteen thirty one twenty fifth of a second it's a style thing I mean alive. Some people want everything frozen no grain cool that's what your marketing and that's what you're going looking for get it but I've got some event let's back up a little bit more yeah, I've got some event photographer friends who really like the slower shutter speed like this where they will photograph yeah, that you get the energy, you get a sense of motion, where they'll photograph a bridegroom dancing or people have a reception or someone at a party, and they'll get the freeze, the person with their flash, and then they'll do this to take the picture, theo, and swirl it around so or those zoom in, if ever seen people racking, zoom like that and you get need effects like it warps into the person's face or pulls out, or you get, like light swirling behind them. So, yeah, you might get a little bit of ghosting and like lindsey said, if you speed up your shutter speed a little bit, you'll minimize that, but I mean, this is this is opens the door to all kinds of creative on camera, flash photography or off camera flash photography, for that matter, when you have the ability to freeze part of your scene and then get motion and created like creativity pumped into the other part, it's a really cool kind of dance to go back and forth between and the other thing I was going to mention is the background light here. It's probably it's kind of fluorescent green. We like that we thought that it gave it kind of that moody night atmosphere, so that's fine, you know that's definitely we're not trying to cancel out everything if it's adding toe atmosphere yeah, so for coming into a room we want if we're doing event photography, we want to neutralize like we discussed yesterday morning we want to neutralize nasty fluorescent nasty, nasty tongue stand if you're kind of have like a motivated or event driven portrait or an environment driven portrait like this, you want the gritty colors and stuff, so if the overhead light is very tungsten, the background looked like one of the new arm or energy efficient city street lamps they've got out there so it has a little fluorescent green light into it so what's neat about this when you get comfortable with off camera flash and gels is you don't generally walk through rooms in life and everything sterile like a hospital room and pure white light when you walk through a room there's different color temperatures coming through the windows, the doors and the cracks in the lamps out of the ceiling. So why don't we walk into environments and on lee light with white light? If you really want to take your off camera flash photography and put a creative spin on it, make your images look more natural put a little bit of gel a very in temperature on everything you use and it's gonna look a lot more natural to your eye so that's, why we started out and let these colors kind of live as they were last piece of the puzzle, though I said I promised I was gonna get some environment in there. I wanted to get some cars in there, so what we did is I had lindsey hold super super still for me. We're on the tripod, and we were looking for some light trails from all the cars and stuff, so this final photo is going to be kind of marrying all of the techniques and stuff that we had in there, so we've got warm light on her. We were able to keep a nice environmental kind of temperatures, the lights around there and that slow shutter speed we were shooting that gave us the ability to drag and get some light trails from the car, so we've got this shot, and I don't know if she's got a comparison, but if you compare this let's, go all the way, then just scroll compared this shot in your mind all the way to the very first one very photographed you on the dark to this that's kind of where we started. And that's, where we end. So I mean, reality. This took us maybe a couple of minutes to photograph. And, you know, we wanted to make sure we got brackets shots and all that kind of stuff. So really not a difficult thing to do if you just go out there and play with your eyes, so play with your shutter, play with your gels. So love. I think, that's, the last one that we've got so let's, feel some questions from you guys in the internet, because we definitely covered a lot with ambien. Natural tl manual gels like outdoors, a fun. It could be a blank canvas to photograph in if you want to start the pitch dark, or it could be all kinds of beautiful colors that you just have to kind of nurse out of the background.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers

Photographers constantly search to capture that decisive moment. Unfortunately, that moment seldom happens under ideal photographic conditions. In this class you'll learn how to quickly overcome all of the most common crappy lighting scenarios. With the aid of these simple techniques and minimal equipment, you'll be empowered to walk into any setting and emerge with beautiful imagery.


Victor van Dijk

Besides all the more or less 'technical, theoretical stuff', the greatest thing I'm taking away with this outstanding course is the plain joy and FUN of trying all sorts of (crappy) lighting solutions!! Speaking for myself, and I suppose also many others, as an 'advanced beginner', I strongly tend to end up to my eyeballs in all technical nitty-gritty, gear 'n' stuff, that I totally mis out on all the sheer FUN of trying out, and often 'muddling through' all kinds of lighting setups! Such a joy to see the fun exchange between Lindsay and Erik! Really catchy. There should be more classes and courses like this, redirecting students to what it's actually all about: sheer creativity and fun! Having said that, Lindsay and Erik demonstrate that there is hardly any crappy light situation that can't be overcome by creative thinking. And more often than not, it doesn't have to be high-tech or difficult! They really showed an exhaustive list of crappy light situations AND their solutions. And I highly commend Lindsay and Erik for their fun energy, and even more important, pragmatism and frankness. I recommend this course to ANY photographer AND videographer, no matter 'beginner' or 'highly advanced'! Lighting is the basis of it all, and most of the time, it isn't perfect...! I highly re

Julie Addison

I thought I understood about light before I took this course. How wrong could I be? I have re-watched this course over and over and I just love it. Quality of light, direction of light - so many crappy light situations. Learning how to actually set a white balance instead of purely relying on the camera presets and learning colour correction by the color checker was also invaluable to me. This course is so affordable. I would recommend it to anyone from beginner to advanced as you will get more out of it than you think. I love the way Lindsay and Erik work together. No right or wrong way - just showing the differences in their styles to accomplish the same end result. Well done guys. Now to have more courses by Erik would be great. Again, can't' thank creative live enough and Erik and Lindsay for this course. Love, Love, Love It!!!!

a Creativelive Student

I hope I can tune in tomorrow. Erik and Lindsay, you guys were awesome today. Some of the things I needed some refreshing on but you definitely had a way of educating. I thought the demos were great and really validating. Light is a difficult thing to keep on your good side, especially with me, someone who primarily uses ambient and available lighting scenarios. This course is great and I'm planning to tune in tomorrow because I really want to see what you have in store for outside. Best of luck guys!! -Sim

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